Even if I wanted to, today was going to be a difficult day to twitch given I had a meeting at 12.00 regarding my dissertation. In the morning I saw the news of a white stork in South Yorkshire and though it would have been difficult, it was doable by public transport, and it was slightly gripping. Anyway, that bird up and left at 10.00, so any thoughts of twitching it were quickly dispelled.
However, another curveball was thrown from the opposite side of Sheffield, where a Kentish Plover had rocked up on a reservoir in Manchester. This was certainly doable and, waiting on news, was a go ahead after my meeting. Problem was, the site description said permit only, and nobody on twitter seemed particularly keen to give out any news of access.
That was my only concern, so fast forward a couple of hours and I rocked up to the site at half 2, hoping beyond hope that I would find a way in and see the bird. Fortunately I bumped into a birder who pointed me towards a way in; through a hole in the fence. Nice.
Once inside we had a bit of bother tracking down the bird. Initially we could not find anyone watching it, although a leaving birder said it was still present. He gave us directions so thats where we headed, scanning the far bank to pick it out. The other birder did pick it out but it was so far away, on the far side of the reser.
For some reason, nobody seemed to want to go round, and I was reluctant to go in case, although unlikely, flushed it. In the end though I got frustrated with distant views and headed round, to truly incredible views, the bird really seeming to not give a care. It took a good half an hour before I was joined by anyone else, birders continuing to scope it from at least 400m away.
It was a stunning little bird, showing really well. I managed to get some nice record shots at least. If you positioned yourself right, it would walk along the shoreline past you. That being said, it did take numerous attempts before I had positioned myself right, but when I had was the only moment in the afternoon when the sun came out.
Possibly my favourite lifer of the year so far, fighting with Hoopoe for top spot. It was not a species I expected to see this year, and certainly not on a reservoir in Manchester. But stranger things...
Other birds on site were a little sparse. I did get a full house of Plovers with both Ringed and Little Ringed also present alongside the Kentish. Common Sandpipers were also present. The sky was full of hirundines, mainly Swallows and Sand Martins but also a few House Martins which were my first of the year.
I could have maybe stayed longer on site, but the sudden lack of rain had brought out some serious swarms of flies, and after three hours watching the bird it did not seem worth lingering in the unpleasantness that had suddenly erupted. I left the site at 5.00 and headed home. What a twitch that was.
Audenshaw Reservoir: Grey Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Mute Swan, Great-crested Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Starling